The 8 Ball 10.1.13: Top 8 TV Shows That Could Be Games
Posted by Marc Morrison on 10.01.2013
From Doctor Who and Continuum to Sherlock and others, 411's Marc Morrison ranks his Top 8 TV Shows That Could Be Video Games!
Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week the topic is about what tv shows could make the jump to a video game. Some shows would be very good fits for the transition, and others would be completely horrible. I tried to split my list from 4 shows that are either on the air (or within 2 or 3 years) and shows from my childhood, or even a bit before that. With that being said, let's begin:
While Alphas wasn't the best tv show around, it was the best "Syfy" had come up with in a fairly long time (I never got into BSG). The idea of having a team of people with special powers, but at the expensive of physical/psychological conditions is still a great one, one that can be readily mapped to today's world. I might envision a game that is like Telltale's Back to the Future or The Walking Dead, an adventure game mixed with action elements. I think the ways they could build a world around Gary or Rachel might be very interesting and distinctive. But really, I'd just be happy with closure based on the cliffhanger ending. Stupid Syfy for cancelling a great show for no good reason. Why have a good science fiction/dramatic show when we can just crank out some crappy "reality" tv shows instead?
I'm well aware that there are a metric ton of Sherlock Holmes inspired games out there but I'm writing specifically on the recent, critically acclaimed BBC version of it. That show is fast-paced, stylish and Sherlock has a preternatural way of deducing info about a person or environment. I could see a good co-op game with Sherlock/Watson as they solve various crimes around modern day London. Between series one and two (and even in some episodes) there is an amount of time skips that has the characters going forward. I'd set a game in those periods and either build out a new set of inter-connected mysteries or else just random ones to show off more of the relationship. But the writing (Moffat/Gatiss/Thompson) would be crucial to get the tone of the show down right.
Continum is a show that is almost bursting at the seams of what it is trying to get across. It has a lot of ideas but some of the series stumbles around when executing them which lead to instability in the show. I think a game could really help draw in some of the hazy aspects of the show and show Kiera off as a capable character. Honestly, I would actually just plunk Kiera off in a Splinter Cell type of game, letting her complete missions how you want them to. You could be graded on police tactics, completing the overall goal, and by staying true to the history that Kiera knows (vs. Liber8 trying to change the past). The unique thing would be the CPS suit and the powers it lets you have (cloaking, hacking, forcefields, etc.), with options to upgrade it based on your performance.
5. Space: Above and Beyond
The first of the "oldie but goodie" lines, Space: Above and Beyond was basically Colony Wars, or Freelancer on the tv screen. It featured the Wild Cards, a squad of human pilots facing off against "The Chigs", an alien force that is largely enigmatic but wants to get revenge over a war humanity initially started. The age of big, well-produced space simulators was almost over, and was largely dead until Star Citizen was announced. While a Space: A&B game wouldn't need to be as ambitious as that project, I would love a space dog-fighting game where you have to fulfill missions for the human side. Then again, playing either side of the "Chiggy Von Richthofen" fight would be a blast to play.
4. Sledge Hammer!
For those who don't know, Sledge Hammer! Is a satirical pastiche of the Dirty Harry/Lethal Weapon films that were coming out in the ‘80's. As the titular character, Detective Sledge Hammer (naturally), you would have full access to his armament all the times, including his beloved .44 Magnum and the occasional rocket launcher he pulls out of his trunk. I think this game would be a great inverse to a GTA game, placing Hammer in a big open city, giving him missions to stop crime but letting you (the player) complete said goals in the most over the top way as possible. Sledge Hammer! Is essentially a cartoon masquerading as a police show and that's what made it so great to the people who saw it.
3. Captain N: The Game Master
The logistics of trying to get Simon Belmont and a chain-smoking sounding voiced Mega Man into a game would be a huge challenge but not impossible. Both Konami and Capcom (especially Capcom) have had their reputations tarnished over the past years with various failures, so Nintendo could make this happen somehow. I actually envision a turn-based RPG for this property, in the vein of Mario RPG. Captain N would be the obvious main character but you could switch out Simon, Mega Man, Lana, Pit, or even Gameboy to help you fight various enemies. You would visit the various busted up game worlds (Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule, Zebes) and have the chance to team up with the characters from which those world come from (Mario, Link, Samus). Not a lot of people remember this show but if Nintendo somehow made a Captain N game for the Wii U (that was good), I'd be buying a Wii U as soon as I could.
2. Doctor Who
Doctor Who is my "cheat" pick for this topic. There have been a few video games based on the property (and one kickass pinball machine), but the video games have largely been terrible. They've included a somewhat boring adventure game, a bizarre MMO, and a 2D platformer that is largely broken. So…none of those really count. I would love to see an actually well produced Doctor Who game that had good production values and the gameplay to actually back it up. I'm not sure what type of game style would most fit a Doctor Who game. The obvious answer is an adventure game, but the prior ones didn't knock it out of the park. I might say RPG (in the vein of something like Chrono Cross), but the Doctor is largely a non-violent character. Unless he plans on Sonic Screwdriving every enemy he meets to death, RPG combat mechanics would be a challenge. Still, I think someone could make a good DoctorWho game, well, I can hope for it to occur at least.
I might honestly kill to get a good Sliders game made, that is how passionate I feel about it. Like with Alphas (and possibly Doctor Who), the only way I could see a Sliders game as an adventure game, hopefully made by Telltale. Each episode could have you visiting a world or two and getting involved in some action, or not really. It might be interesting if you could just avoid conflict all together and wait for the timer to activate. It might be good to wash away the slate entirely, just keeping the core concepts of the Timer, and Parallel Worlds around, but coming up with an entirely new set of characters. Branching paths would be a must as well as whom you even take with you from world to world. I would play the ever loving hell out of a Sliders game; it's just a shame that outside of some alternate dimension, it will never come to pass.
The Better Half with Liana K
8 TV Shows that Should Be Video Games
This fall's slate of TV shows sucks. Well, mostly sucks. Many new and returning shows aren't completely living up to their potential, because their potential is in video games! Okay, true, I think everything is better when it's a video game, but in this case, I can back up that theory! For your consideration, the following list of shows that could be great video games, even if they're not very good shows.
8/7: Elementary versus Sherlock
I used up these two shows in the same spot because they're the same concept, albeit done two very different ways. I know this game will likely never happen because of the animosity between the BBC and CBS, but wouldn't it be fun!? Lucy Liu and Martin Freeman working together on cases in Heavy Rain-Style gameplay is a joyful thought all on its own, but what really makes me love this concept is the idea that digital Johnny Lee Miller could beat digital Benedict Cumberbach in the head with his single stick. Repeatedly. Seriously, BBC's "Sexy, but-totally-not-gay sociopath" Sherlock really needs to be taken down a few pegs. The only downside to this game would be that it would aid Benedict Cumberbach's gradual viral takeover of geek media. Okay, I talked myself out of the idea. Someone just make a Divekick mod so I can have Johnny Lee Miller beat the crap out of him. Please?
6: The Voice
There hasn't been a good game for the so-called "casual" market in a while. Kinect should have been more than a gimmick, but, sadly, isn't... so far. The Voice is the only Reality TV style show that I watch. Would I play a game that let me experience being mentored by Blake Shelton? Or Christina Aguilera? Or Cee-Lo? Or Shakira? Yes, I would. But I'd also relish being able to tell Usher to just chill, or exploring my love/hate TV relationship with Adam Levine. If you're a dude wearing a hat, you are guaranteed to be on Adam's team... but I digress. The Voice video game could be the first singing RPG, where you build relationships, manage factional loyalties, and, of course, sing... hopefully passably well. If you're not very good, you could sabotage your competitors to give you an edge, based on clues to their strengths and weaknesses that you learn through dialogue and observation. But there could also be a Rocksmith-style training element to the game, where breath control, song phrasing, and artistry actually matter, and an online community that gives the best of the best a shot at the real show. This may seem like a joke, and I admit it kind of started off as one. But there are compelling reasons that The Voice could make a great game, because the show itself is a combination of big, cartoonish characters and actual skill.
5: The Following
Okay I'll fully admit that this show is terrible and likely to get worse in season two, but the limits of television don't exist in the video game world. The Following is a sound concept, backed up by solid acting, but it's hamstrung by hackneyed, pandering writing. A video game writing team well-versed in action horror stories can certainly do better. Ryan Hardy is already a gun-toting, obsessive, tortured drunk, so he'd fit right in with emo video game protagonists, and it shouldn't be too hard to think up a fresh batch of stereotypes to slaughter in the name of literacy. Besides, video games need its own version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
4: Marvel's Agents of Shield
If you thought the pilot of The Following was bad, the first episode of Agents of Shield was worse: bad special effects, subtle racism, hypersexualized female characters... except for the Asian woman, which adds more subtle racism to the hypersexualization with the ol' dragon lady stereotype. Video games get a bad rap, but this is all stuff that would cause an online riot if it were in a game. On TV? Barely a whimper. What does that say about the ethics of those industries. Furthermore, Agent Coulson is a great character. As a video game protagonist, he'd be able to get the screen time he was robbed of in the TV show pilot. I can see this concept working as an open world game, similar to Saints Row. With Coulson's dry sense of humor, an arsenal of gadgets, and his cool old hover car, the silliness could work... once you take out the horrendously offensive bits and terrible acting that made the pilot crash and burn. Furthermore, the "Fitz/Simmons" scientist characters are just the Muppet Baby version of the Lutece twins from Bioshock Infinite. A DLC pack could change them into the actual Lutece twins, making them 300% more awesome.
3: Sleepy Hollow
Another horrible show from this fall's freshman class, but this one is so bad it's AMAZING. If you love good bad television, you owe it to yourself to see the pilot of this series, because by episode two, they fix a lot of the hilariously awful stuff. While I still haven't decided if that's encouraging or disappointing, I will say that the two series leads do an admirable job delivering very silly material. Despite this, I can't help but feel that Sleepy Hollow – a story of a man from colonial America trying to stop doomsday -- is really an Assassin's Creed 3 DLC pack, featuring cameos from Morte from Planescape: Torment and Saravok from Baldur's Gate. There's even a brief first-person perspective death scene in the pilot... seriously, it was like a game of visual madlibs. Since the concept already borrows so heavily from video games, it should just take the plunge and become a video game itself... but it needs to be made by Ubisoft, or there's grounds for a lawsuit.
2: Once Upon a Time
Finally, a show I do not think is entertainingly awful! Once Upon a Time is a fantastic ensemble cast, grown up fairy tale that reminds me of my long-lost, beloved King's Quest games. Every character has a reason for existing, and the prettier men are actually competent in their roles, even if Captain Hook is something of a Jack Sparrow rip off, right down to the eyeliner. It would be easy enough to make Rumpelstiltskin, Belle, Captain Hook, and Regina into Disney Infinity characters and put out their own play set. But I'd prefer a self-contained action-adventure game, with some previously under-explored realms, like the black and white reality Dr Frankenstein came from. This IP seems ripe for a first-person experience, because I know I'd love to explore Storybrook, Neverland, and the Enchanted Forest as if I'm in their realities, and meet the various characters in an immersive, interactive experience, not just a facebook app.
1: Lost Girl
Seriously, why isn't this show not a video game!? Well, other than the fact that Canadian television has its head up its collective ass, and doesn't know how to convert a good show into a multimedia hit to save its life. It's unfortunate, because Canada has a thriving video game sector that TV could take some pointers from. But I digress. Lost Girl has urban fantasy RPG written all over it, and Bo is the perfect protagonist for that sort of game: She kicks ass, does minor magic, her eyes glow at times, and she sleeps with almost everything that moves. She's practically Geralt of Rivia in Lara Croft's body! Furthermore, her unaligned status provides a natural impetus for player choice, and gives a game an opportunity to fling tons of Light Fae and Dark Fae missions at a player, with factional consequences as results. Another benefit of a video game is that the budgetary constraints that impact the TV show won't affect the special effects budget in the same way, so the imagination that's constrained in the series can be given tons of room to play in the digital world. Seriously, peoples! Make a Lost Girl game!
I'm sure people could try and think of a lot of different tv shows that could be made into a game. The challenge is whether or not it would be a good game. Never the less, I tried to come up with a few examples of shows that might fit the bill: The Pretender, Twilight Zone, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego (based on the cartoon show), Lexx, Firefly and Burn Notice.
The General Roundup
There weren't a lot of comments from last week (again), but I'll address a few. Tench: Stealth Assassins got a lot of weird retro-love. I remember playing it and being bugged by the limited distance you could see. Although the game had a truly killer debug mode you could mess with. That game isn't as great as a lot of you are remembering. Also, Liana is pretty ambivalent of Metal Gear, and I really didn't like MGS 3. 1 and 2 were good, but MGS 3 was a mess at the time. Also, I guess the fact that Metal Gear Solid 1 was number 2 on my list was a gross injustice.
Two other things:
1. To the person who took umbrage with my dismissing of Chaos Theory (because I never played it), here's a tip for you: I haven't played every game in existence. Liana hasn't played every game in existence. You, sir or madam (or Grand Leader of the Dunces), have not played every game in existence. There are wide gaps in every person's knowledge and history when it comes to playing/critiquing games. Had I known, a year ago (when I really started reviewing games), I could forego NOT playing the game and could give an assessment based on the box art, gut instinct, or whether or not the sun came up (as you seem to imply), it would've made my job a lot easier. Thank you for this hot tip!
2. Yes, Liana is a celebrity, and attractive. But, she's also a great friend, an extremely intelligent woman, and someone who knows more about games than a lot of other people. Those are the reasons she graciously helps me do this column.